The Life and times of John McGregor Skinner
by Peter Scott Roberts
Published by Portyfelin Heritage and Literary Group, 2006 €40 12.50
The first reaction might be ?who. But then one is reminded that on driving off the Holyhead ferry there is a large memorial commemorating Captain Skinner. H is credited with playing a key role in the development of the port of Holyhead. The construction driven by the Admiralty closely paralleled the construction of Dun laoghaire. This is not surprising given that they were developed as parts of essentially the same programme conceived in the later Napoleonic scare and executed fairly promptly thereafter. The involvement of Rennie in both projects makes for similarities in design. Captain Skinner was so highly regarded by the Dublin merchants that when his packet boat was wrecked on the South Wall they replaced it by subscription and the replacement was called the Dublin. There is considerable insight on the packet service between Britain and Ireland which is, itself a worthy subject for more intensive study. This book is well produced, well researched and well written and a credit to the author. A descendent commented that it was an excellent family history as well. A more general reader will find it a fascinating account of an individual career at sea through the American revolutionary war, then with east India company and as a packet captain.
reviewed by Ed Bourke